The Garbage front­woman on what Mar­i­lyn Manson smells like, what she wears to put the bins out and the power of a “mad brain”.


The Garbage singer on the nicest-smelling celebrity she’s met and mak­ing her fans cry.

Dif­fi­cult sec­ond al­bum syn­drome passed Garbage by when it came to mak­ing Ver­sion 2.0. The 1998 al­bum be­came just as suc­cess­ful as their multi-mil­lion­selling de­but, mak­ing the quar­tet one of the big­gest bands in the world. Re­vis­it­ing the record for its re­mas­tered 20th- an­niver­sary edi­tion has brought back noth­ing but happy me­mories for front­woman Shirley Manson. “I’m not re­ally some­body who lis­tens to my mu­sic once it’s done, I don’t go back,” she says, “so it was quite sur­real. It was such a great record for us. I’ve got noth­ing but great me­mories of it. We were on the crest of a wave. There’s al­ways a strug­gle when you’ve got four egos in a room but in gen­eral it was a pretty joy­ous ex­pe­ri­ence.” Manson is sit­ting in a cosy meet­ing room at her pub­li­cist’s of­fice in West Lon­don. The Edinburgh na­tive is fun and an­i­mated com­pany, with a filthy mouth and an in­fec­tious laugh. There have been bumps along the way for Garbage, with the band tak­ing an ex­tended hia­tus in the mid-noughties be­fore gal­vanis­ing them­selves for a sec­ond wave of suc­cess over the past few years. “I’m still alive, what a fuck­ing mir­a­cle!” she pro­claims. What bet­ter way to cel­e­brate the con­tin­ued ex­is­tence of one of rock’s most cap­ti­vat­ing per­form­ers than with a pub­lic cros­sex­am­i­na­tion? Let the ques­tions be­gin…

What’s the big­gest ca­reer mis­take you’ve ever made? Felix Turner, Lon­don Al­low­ing myself to be told by our record com­pany to make a video that I knew would be shite, which was for 2001 sin­gle] Cherry Lips. We had an in­cred­i­ble pitch from Bri­tish di­rec­tor] Dawn Shad­forth who had made our Spe­cial video and she had this bril­liant idea and we wanted to go with her but our Amer­i­can la­bel wanted us to work with an­other di­rec­tor who made a ter­ri­ble video. We had no choice. It’ll never hap­pen again.

What’s the most trou­ble you got into as a young­ster? Emily Gray, Wor­thing I was al­ways too wily to get into trou­ble. But I did some­thing aw­ful at school, which I’m yet to for­give myself for, which is I spat on the head­mas­ter from above, from three lev­els up. His name was Mr Sco­bie. I dropped saliva on him, I didn’t spit on him. We were do­ing saliva bub­bles where you would drop your gob and then suck it back up, and my gob did not get sucked up in time and it dropped on the head­mas­ter and I im­me­di­ately jumped back and he looked up and he saw an­other, slower girl and she got the blame for it. I al­lowed her to take the blame and I’ll never for­give myself. She didn’t know who’d done it. I was like light­ning. She was help­less and caught in a web of de­ceit. I con­vinced myself psy­cho­log­i­cally that I hadn’t done it. That’s when I re­alised the power of the mad brain.

What’s the weird­est thing you’ve seen from the stage? Cam Simp­son, Up­min­ster Prob­a­bly last year when we were on tour in Amer­ica. It was an out­side show in Chicago and there was a man on a sun-lounger fast asleep through­out the whole show un­til I drew at­ten­tion to him and the crowd started laugh­ing at him. He woke up for one brief sec­ond then sat up and looked around a lit­tle dazed, and then went back to sleep. I took it on the chin.

Do you feel that your orig­i­nal burst of fame in the ’ 90s with Garbage was tainted by two of your band­mates sport­ing crim­i­nal fa­cial hair? Jim Dunne, Ban­gor I liked their fa­cial hair! I thought it was cute, but I think my band are cute. Q demon­strates the land­ing strip-style goa­tee that gui­tarist Duke Erik­son sported and asks if she re­ally thought it was cute] Ha­ha­haarghhh! I liked it! The thing that peo­ple for­get is that you just do the best you can when you emerge into the spot­light. There’s the odd per­son who’s just cool as fuck, and there’s hardly any of them. Most of us are just nor­mal peo­ple who get thrust into the spot­light and you do the best you can to catch up. What I’m say­ing is, don’t fuck with my boys!

Who’s the nicest smelling celebrity you’ve ever met? Vicky Rayner, Derby I haven’t reg­is­tered body odour to be hon­est, usu­ally I’m ei­ther too ex­cited or en­gaged in the ex­pe­ri­ence to no­tice what they smell like. Mar­i­lyn Manson smells re­ally good. He’s de­li­cious. He sort of smells like my very first boyfriend. He smells of, like, good hair prod­ucts. He’s re­ally smart, re­ally funny, re­ally sweet. He’s clean.

Do you take your own bins out? Tim How­ell, York Fuck yeah! I’m a ma­niac about bins. I’m a ma­niac about re­cy­cling, I’m a neat freak, mild ob­ses­sive com­pul­sive. I have to be cov­ered to put the bins out. My gen­i­tals need to be cov­ered, and my tits. And I need to have some­thing on my feet. But I have been out there in all states of dress, some magnificent, and some re­ally fright­en­ing and de­press­ing looks. Some­times I’ll be do­ing it af­ter a photo shoot or some­thing and I’ve got my hair com­pletely done, with make-up and nails and lovely clothes, and other times you’re skirt­ing in and out hop­ing no­body sees you.

You are a world fa­mous, well-trav­elled rock star. What is the first thing that peo­ple around the globe think about Scot­tish peo­ple? Gemma Lowe, Aberdeen The Loch Ness Mon­ster. Glas­gow venue] Bar­row­lands comes up a lot, much to my pride and joy. The more I go all over the world, the more I re­alise how spe­cial Bar­row­lands is. There are cer­tain spa­ces that are magic and that’s one of them. It’s so pe­cu­liar, you don’t think that it’ll ever come up in con­ver­sa­tion but it’s al­most al­ways the first thing out of mu­si­cians’ mouths.

Have you ever made one of your own fans cry? Sam Hud­son, Carlisle Yes, I think I have. I’m al­ways telling peo­ple to fuck off. See, here’s my thing: if you know some­body’s a tiger, don’t put your hand in the tiger’s cage. It’s a given. Now, I am known for hav­ing a bit of a tem­per. I’m known for be­ing a lit­tle quick to the rise, so don’t be sur­prised when you get a re­sponse when you write some­thing cheeky. I get a lot of cheek and then I will re­spond in kind and then it’s, “How could you talk to one of your fans like that?” “Well, did you note what you just said to me, mate?” So, yes, I think I’ve made a few of them cry. Some­times I take great plea­sure in it, I have to say, be­cause it’s good sport – words are in­ter­est­ing and fun and I en­joy it.

Have you ever been told off by some­one fa­mous? Natasha Forster, Bris­tol

I haven’t been told off per se, but I’ve been given some ad­vice, shall we say, from Peaches. What she said is be­tween me and her but she knows my num­ber, she reads me in a funny way that I’ve never re­ally en­coun­tered be­fore. I know that she com­pletely gets me and com­pletely gets my weird psy­che. It was some­thing I was talk­ing about and with a lit­tle twin­kle in her eye sort of threw it back at me and I knew she knew all my deep­est, dark­est se­crets.

Do you still have the orange jacket that looks like the Ver­sion 2.0 cover? @shellsense­less, via Twit­ter As a mat­ter of fact, I do, and it’s about to go on dis­play at the Na­tional Mu­seum Of Scot­land as they’re about to launch an ex­hi­bi­tion on Scot­tish mu­sic and I was ap­proached to do­nate some items to it. What else have I put in there? You’ll have to go to find out!

Who’s the hard­est per­son you know? Liam Bar­well, Mel­ton Mow­bray I would prob­a­bly say the head of The Pablove Foun­da­tion in Amer­ica, who’s a friend of mine, her name’s Jo Ann and she is the hard­est per­son I know. She lost a child and man­aged to hold her­self to­gether enough to build a foun­da­tion in his name. She runs

“Mar­i­lyn Manson smells re­ally good. He’s de­li­cious. He smells of, like, good hair prod­ucts.”

it and she’s man­aged to re­con­nect with life and find some joy in it and that to me is hard. Hard as nails. She’s amaz­ing. Tak­ing an­other crack at liv­ing is badass.

Out of your rock star friends, who is the most mis­un­der­stood? Karl John­son, Cardiff Court­ney Love. Not so much now, be­cause peo­ple have de­vel­oped an af­fec­tion for her, un­der­stand­ing what a rare beast she is. But I think she was grossly mis­un­der­stood for a long time and I’m happy to see she’s been taken to the bo­som again and peo­ple seem to have a lot of love for her now. She’s a mis­un­der­stood ge­nius. You’ve dyed your hair a lot. Do you ever worry about hair loss? Katy But­ter­field, Dover No, I have the most ridicu­lous amount of hair ever. I have so much hair. Strong hair. I want to change it ev­ery day. I’m cur­rently fight­ing the de­sire to shave the whole fuck­ing thing off and my hus­band is lit­er­ally on his knees ev­ery night go­ing, “Please don’t, please don’t shave it off!” I’m like, “Can you charge your clip­pers?” and he’s like, “Please don’t, I’m beg­ging you!” I’m just sick of it, it bores the shit out of me. It’s a te­dious bore, ha­ha­haha! What’s the worst thing any­one’s ever said to you? Ja­son Laughton, Glas­gow This doesn’t sound too bad now, but when I was young it was the worst thing any­one could ever say to me, which was, “What colour is your pu­bic hair?” Ev­ery time some­body said that to me, I thought I was gonna die of shame. It took me a long time to get over it. Maybe 15 years of sex­ual ac­tiv­ity. Truly, I re­mem­ber that hor­ri­ble, burning, sink­ing feel­ing. But now I think it’s glo­ri­ous.

What’s been the hard­est mo­ment in the band? Lu­cas Bruce, Edinburgh Fail­ure. When we got dropped by our record la­bels, both in the UK and Amer­ica, and I think we all felt de­feated and didn’t re­ally think we’d be ta­lented enough to re­build our­selves. We felt hope­less, like, “Wow, this is the end of the ride, OK.” We weren’t re­ally speak­ing to one an­other and I think we all blamed each other for what we per­ceived as fail­ure.

What’s the most dis­gust­ing thing you’ve ever put in your mouth? Thea Power, Hull Sheep’s brains, in Is­tan­bul. It tasted just like pâté. It was pretty ex­treme. I ate it as a kind of dare. Yes, I swal­lowed. Of course I did.

What’s the trait you most de­plore in other peo­ple? Craig Up­shaw, New­cas­tle Upon Tyne Dis­hon­esty. I can tol­er­ate flaws in peo­ple but I can’t tol­er­ate lies. Peo­ple who are fake and por­tray them­selves as one thing but ac­tu­ally are an­other, all that shit, I re­ally can’t stand it.

In the TV se­ries, Ter­mi­na­tor: The Sarah Con­nor Chron­i­cles, you kissed Break­ing Bad’s Dean Nor­ris to death. How was it? Pam Green­wood, Aberys­twth It was re­ally nice, I love him! He was so sweet with me. I was a novice and of course he is this in­cred­i­ble ac­tor and I was very ner­vous and em­bar­rassed. I was way out of my depth and it was very late at night on the Warner Bros lot in Hol­ly­wood and I re­mem­ber just want­ing to go home. It was some­thing like three in the morn­ing and he was so cool. It was nice!

To take part in Cash For Ques­tions, go to Qthe­mu­, fol­low @Qmagazine on Twit­ter or visit Face­book (face­ qmagazine). £ 25 for each ques­tion printed! If yours is printed, email Qmail@Qthe­mu­ to claim your money.

Scis­sor sis­ter: (left) as Cather­ine Weaver in Ter­mi­na­tor: TSCC; (right) the “funny” and “clean” Mar­i­lyn Manson (no re­la­tion).

In­ter­na­tion­ally renowned Scot, Nessie The Loch Ness Mon­ster.

“I liked their fa­cial hair!” Manson with Garbage band­mates (from left, Steve Marker, Butch Vig, 1998. Duke Erik­son) in

Garbage’s Shirley Manson an­swers your ques­tions (p26).

Clip­per con­spir­acy: Shirley is fight­ing a de­sire to shave off all her hair.

“Quick to the rise” Shirley Manson fends off the Q read­ers’ queries; (be­low) the jack­etin­spir­ing cover of 1998’ s Ver­sion 2.0

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